POV: Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World
by Ayn Rand | 1960
Three Things We Must Know in Order to Stop Jihadists
by Elan Journo | December 23, 2016
15 Years After 9/11, We Still Don’t Understand The Enemy
by Elan Journo | September 11, 2016
Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond
by Elan Journo | September 07, 2016
How the U.S., and Israel, Wage Self-Crippled Wars
by Elan Journo | October 8, 2015
The Israel-Palestinian War
by Elan Journo | July 28, 2014
How the International Laws of War Abet Hamas, Undercut Israel
by Elan Journo | July 17, 2014
Book Review: “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes”
by Elan Journo | June 02, 2014
World Upside Down
by Elan Journo | November 27, 2012
Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand and U.S. Foreign Policy
by Elan Journo | October 19, 2012
Our self-crippled policy encouraged the deadly embassy attacks
by Elan Journo | September 28, 2012
Galt Goes Global
by Elan Journo | August 28, 2012
Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism
by Elan Journo | 2009
Our Self-Crippled War
by Elan Journo | September 10, 2009
An Unwinnable War?
by Elan Journo | Fall 2009
The Road to 9/11: How America's Selfless Policies Unleashed the Jihadists
by Elan Journo | September 10, 2007
The Real Disgrace: Washington’s Battlefield “Ethics”
by Elan Journo | July 28, 2007
Neoconservative Foreign Policy: An Autopsy
by Yaron Brook | Summer 2007
The “Forward Strategy” for Failure
by Yaron Brook | Spring 2007
What Real War Looks Like
by Elan Journo | December 07, 2006
Democracy vs. Victory: Why The “Forward Strategy of Freedom” Had to Fail
by Yaron Brook | September 12, 2006
Washington’s Failed War in Afghanistan
by Elan Journo | June 08, 2006
“Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense
by Yaron Brook | Spring 2006
The Foreign Policy of Guilt
by Onkar Ghate | September 29, 2005
Neoconservatives vs. America: A Critique of U.S. Foreign Policy since 9/11
by Yaron Brook | September 15, 2005
The Failure of the Homeland Defense: The Lessons from History
by John David Lewis | March 23, 2005
America’s Compassion in Iraq Is Self-Destructive
by Elan Journo | January 12, 2005
Morality of War
by Yaron Brook | September 09, 2004
The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America
by Peter Schwartz | May 2004
Don’t Blame Our Intelligence Agencies — Blame Our Unprincipled Foreign Policy
by Onkar Ghate | April 02, 2004
Diverting the Blame for 9/11
by Onkar Ghate | March 31, 2004
America vs. Americans
by Leonard Peikoff | April 21, 2003
America Is Not Winning the War
by Onkar Ghate | August 29, 2002
Innocents in War?
by Onkar Ghate | January 18, 2002
War, Nuclear Weapons and “Innocents”
by Onkar Ghate | September 28, 2001
The Wreckage of the Consensus
by Ayn Rand | April 16, 1967


Foreign Policy in Voice for Reason
Foreign PolicySelf Defense & Free Trade

Our self-crippled policy encouraged the deadly embassy attacks

by Elan Journo | September 28, 2012 | Fox News Opinion

The murders of American diplomatic and military personnel in Libya underscore the consequences of America’s longstanding failure to uphold the rights of Americans to live and speak their minds in the face of the Islamist threat.

For decades, U.S. policymakers have refused to recognize the religious character and goals of the Islamist movement. That movement — which encompasses Tehran’s mullahs, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and many others — is a political ideology that seeks to subjugate all the world’s peoples, by physical force, under the supreme governing authority of Islamic religious law, in every area of life and thought.

Our self-crippled policy encouraged the deadly embassy attacks

America has for decades failed to see how that audacious long-term plan of conquest — however grandiose and fanciful it might seem — in fact actuates the Islamist cause. Whether the Libyan murderers and the mobs in Cairo and in Sanaa were truly incensed by a YouTube film or merely using that as a pretext, the Islamist goal remains to enforce submission in body and mind — on pain of death. The West’s long history of religious wars attests to the fact that until religion has been defanged and marginalized by reason, it is deadly.Our failure to understand this has crippled our policymaking.

The pattern is stark.

Rewind three decades to a watershed crisis. The 1979 raid on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and ensuing captivity of American diplomats were acts of war blessed by Iran’s jihadist regime. Did Washington assert itself, declare that American lives are untouchable, and vow to retaliate with all necessary force unless the hostages were freed?

If only.

The Carter administration disavowed serious military action, eventually imposed some limp sanctions, and agonized over how best to accommodate Tehran’s demands (for money, legal immunity, a face-saving resolution). We caved. The ayatollahs correctly drew an ominous lesson that when attacked, America will not do a damn thing.

What followed was a spate of attacks that Tehran and its jihadist allies spearheaded. Perhaps the most audacious were the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon and the barracks of U.S. Marines, killing 241 Americans. Reagan’s response? Loud but empty rhetoric about retaliation, followed by meek capitulation.

Raid an embassy, take Americans hostage, murder Americans — and get away with it. That was a bright green light inviting more aggression, from an America apparently willing to surrender its self-respect.

It was against this backdrop that Ayatollah Khomeini decided he could now tell Americans what we can think and say, issuing a death-sentence fatwa on Salman Rushdie, author of “The Satanic Verses,” and his American publisher, for having offended Mohammad and Islam. In the face of this religious endorsement of totalitarian thought control, did the George H. W. Bush administration declare that an American’s freedom of speech is inviolable? Did it vow to end the regime in Iran if anyone, anywhere dared to act on Khomeini’s death decree?

No. On the contrary, even as U.S. booksellers were flooded with death threats, even as two bookstores were firebombed, even as employees of American publishers trembled in fear of an assassin’s bullet — the administration was passive. Effectively, that non-response sold out the principle of freedom of speech, in deference to a blood-lusting Islamist cleric.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, were the climax, up until then, of a mounting series of jihadist attacks. Bush quickly assured us that the attacks had nothing to do with religion. The subsequent U.S. military response in Iraq and Afghanistan, far from seeking to defeat Islamists, in fact brought many to power through Bush’s crusade for elections. Despite the large-scale military deployment, our policy remained one of conciliation (let the Afghans and Iraqis define their own constitutions) and active appeasement (trying to bribe Tehran to stop its aggression).

This policy failed to dissuade jihadists from viewing America as (in bin Laden’s favored phrase) a paper tiger. A case in point was the 2006 Muslim riots over Danish cartoons lampooning Mohammad. The raging of mobs, the burning of flags, the firebombing of embassies — all this was meant to coerce the nations of Europe and North America to bow down before Islamic religious law. Practically all of them did. In unison. With a perfunctory nod to the right of free speech, George W. Bush’s administration betrayed that principle by indicating that perhaps the cartoons were better left unpublished, while the State Department criticized their publication as “offensive to the beliefs of Muslims.”

The cycle is clear. Islamists attack, expecting a non-response. We, unable or unwilling to tackle the issue of religion, submit, conciliate, appease — inviting them to ramp up their aggression.

Is it any wonder that our embassies in the Middle East are besieged, breached, bombed?

The cycle persists, because without connecting the dots to see the big picture,without grasping the uniting religious goal of the Islamist movement, we cannot take the steps necessary to stop it. Until we end America’s policy of passivity, inaction and appeasement, we can only expect more Islamist aggression.

About The Author

Elan Journo

Senior Fellow and Vice President of Content Products, Ayn Rand Institute